Call center buyers face an embarrassment of riches in call center technology, sourcing, vendor, and distributor options. The good news: It’s a highly competitive market with ample room to compare products and negotiate prices. The bad news: It takes time to get to know the vendors and give them the chance to know you.
Don’t short-circuit the contact center technology selection process with a blind request for proposal (RFP), a quick decision based on a team member’s experience at a previous employer, or an emotional attachment to a product or vendor!
Assemble a cross-functional team to conduct a requirements and evaluation process and perform appropriate due diligence. Invite call center leadership, analysts, and IT/telecom to join the team; include HR, legal, marketing and others as appropriate, based on the technology you’re pursuing. Then follow our 7 step process.
- Clearly define the goals and scope of the project in the context of your business strategy.
- Identify contact center technology options. Consider significant decisions such as buy versus build, customize versus configure, premises versus hosted versus managed services, and suite versus best-of-breed.
- Develop vendor profiles for products and services of interest. Focus on key features and functions that really matter to your business and/or clearly distinguish the vendors from one another.
- Use the differentiators that you established in the previous step to build a request for quote or proposal (RFQ or RFP) that defines functional, technical, vendor, implementation, support, and pricing requirements.
- Evaluate your call center technology options by reviewing vendor responses (proposal, configuration and quote), developing pros and cons, analyzing costs, and addressing questions. Conduct vendor demonstrations and presentations based on an agenda that you define carefully and control.
- Use a formal scorecard with criteria and weightings to select your vendor partner. It helps remove some of the emotional bias that inevitably enters into the decision process and creates the means for team members to identify and discuss specific areas in which there may be differences of opinion. Your recommendation to senior management needs to reflect a group consensus.
- Sign a contract with the vendor. Make sure to include service-level agreements (SLA) and a formal statement of work. Negotiation isn’t just about price and legal terms; it is about clearly establishing who will do what in terms of implementation and support and the results you can expect at every step.